The most unique breweries in the LA area

Ariana DiValentino


The United States is home to thousands of independent craft breweries, and Southern California is home to many of them. The region is credited with firing up the IPA trend, if not the American craft movement as a whole. With so much brewing talent contained in Los Angeles and surrounding areas, it makes sense that several of them are pouring their ability into niche and uncommon styles. When you're craving something other than a garden-variety lager, the wickedly creative craft brewers of SoCal have you covered. Whether you're in the mood for a bottle-aged sour, a creamy pastry stout, or locally-made Trappist-style ales, your options abound in the L.A. area.

Dry River in DTLA focuses on funk

Immediately east of the elusive L.A. river, you’ll find Dry River Brewing right in downtown L.A. If you’re looking for a truly craft, artisan beverage, Dry River is your answer. They describe their program as “slow beer,” emphasising the importance of fermentation and ageing. Fittingly, their beers are largely fermented in oak barrels and foeders, and many continue ageing in wine barrels – all of which helps to impart rich, layered flavour into the beers.

At Dry River, the bulk of what you’ll find are aged sours, often made with added ingredients like fruit or non-traditional grains, leading to tempting final products like the Pomona, a foeder-aged gose with kiwi, basil, and sea salt, or the Xibalba, their sour chocolate stout. Generally speaking, their brews lean towards the culinary and wine-like, but aren’t without variety. Apart from sour beer enthusiasts, their lineup is likely to intrigue beer-curious oenophiles as well. Serious fans might consider joining or gifting their Slow Beer Society membership program in order to try their tempting special releases.

Monkish Brewing serves ancient and trendy styles alike

The appropriately-named Monkish Brewing, based in the city of Torrance in Los Angeles’ South Bay, focuses mostly on Trappist-style beers – just, you know, without the monks. Belgian styles anchor their program, frequently returning to Dubbels and Tripels as well as modern spins on classic saisons and farmhouse ales.

But at heart, Monkish is a truly contemporary brewery. Their regular patrons keep coming back for their IPAs, which make up the bulk of their lineup. And they’re not boring IPAs, either. Monkish makes on-trend double and triple IPAs, hazy New England IPAs, and they make generous use of dry-hopping as a technique. Examples include Universal Verses, their triple dry-hopped double IPA, starring loads of Galaxy hops, and Monk Nation, a double dry-hopped wheated double IPA with a blend of Galaxy, Simcoe, and Centennial hops. The result of these bold, hop-heavy concoctions is an intense, flavourful lineup of uncommon beers sure to delight craft beer enthusiasts.

The Bruery Terreux is wild about about wild ales

The Bruery’s main headquarters are located down in Placentia, in Orange County, CA, which is where they make the majority of their beer, including the sticky-sweet, dessert-in-a-glass pastry stouts for which they’ve become known. But in order to develop their sour beer program with all the space and attention it deserves, The Bruery has opened a satellite location in Anaheim (also known as the home of Disneyland.) This space, called The Bruery Terreux, is a taproom as well as fermentation and barrel-aging space for sour and wild ales, which tend to require more space and resources than other styles.

Sour lovers will be in heaven at the Terreux. Their tap list regularly includes a full array of fruited and cocktail-style sours, like their popular Goses are Red, a rosé-inspired take on the salty German style. Visitors can also expect to find some selections that showcase aging techniques or introduce wild or sour yeast to unlikely styles, like stouts. If one has the pleasure of visiting The Bruery Terreux in person, there’s little reason not to sample everything on tap.

Cellador Ales aims for the extremes

Located in North Hills, California, up in the San Fernando Valley, Cellador is another brewery that focuses greatly on sour beers. Blending, too, is an important recurring technique of theirs, reminiscent of a winemaker mixing the most perfectly balanced red. Don’t expect to find a regular lager or IPA here – Cellador exclusively puts out artisan-crafted brews fermented in oak barrels.

And while fruit is often part of their brewing process, rather than the sweet-and-sour, fruit snack-like direction taken by some sour-loving brewers, Cellador’s beers tend to be a bit on the drier side. Some past releases include The Carrot King, a Belgian-inspired wild ale made with carrot juice; Petalum, a blended wild ale made with beets, and Caute, a table saison aged in red wine barrels and dry-hopped with Czech Saaz hops. Expect complex, rich beers made one-of-a-kind. If you’re a fan, you might consider joining or gifting a membership to their Syndicate program for exclusive access to limited releases.

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