When one thinks about California and craft beer, the first place that comes to mind is Los Angeles.
And while it’s true that grand ol’ L.A. is renowned for its brewery list, one doesn’t have to travel very far to find themselves in uncharted territory and stumble upon a hidden treasure. Right along the coastline is the small city of Long Beach, which is located just outside of L.A. This oceanfront city is one of the surfing havens of America, and it’s full of a few excellent breweries that are providing surfers, beachgoers, and tourists alike with quality craft beers.
Situated in a vacant shopping center is the Long Beach Beer Lab. This hidden gem is quite literally out of sight because it sits in between two empty storefronts—the only indication of existing life is a sign that reads “Brewery.” Inside are large steel tanks with wooden barrels stacked up on the adjacent wall. The polished wood interior is a great place to sample the Beer Lab’s freshly brewed beers, which include a delicious grapefruit gose that presents notes of juicy grapefruit, salt, lime, and a hint of watermelon; a hazy IPA; a Norwegian imperial buttercup stout; and a bourbon barrel-aged Russian imperial stout.
Not far from the Long Beach Beer Lab stands the Liberation Brewing Company, which makes several IPAs as well as a brown ale, hazy pale ale, oat lager, and a few others. The night we visited happened to be the brewery’s “Beer & Politics” night, where several Long Beach city councilmen and councilwomen answered questions from fellow citizens, which was tough for the council, but rather entertaining for everyone else.
Up the street from Liberation is Ambitious Ales, a simple, modern brewery that lets craft beer drinkers enjoy its brews and conversations without distractions. To eliminate the need for too much decision-making, Ambitious Ales provides craft beer lovers with only a few options, all of which are purely satisfactory. Its list consists of a Belgian table beer brewed with chamomile, lavender, and fresh, local strawberries and an imperial stout brewed with coffee and cocoa beans, as well as a blonde ale, gose, and session IPA.
Across town is Steady Brew Beer Co., where an oil pump logo greets you with a couple of retro arcade games to entertain. The aroma of malts and hops are swirling through the air as soon as you step inside this brewery. Steady Brew makes an array of different brews to satisfy all types of beer drinkers, ranging from light-hued pale ales to hopped-up, copper-colored IPAs to a dark-as-night roasted stout. Two more breweries, Timeless Pints Brewing Company and Ten Mile Brewing, complete the list, with their own intriguing designs and satisfying brews that span the flavor spectrum and entice the palate for more. For every beer lover visiting Southern California, Long Beach should be a destination at the top of your list.