While the Bay Area and San Diego are known internationally for their craft beer scenes in general and IPAs in particular, Los Angeles has received far less attention for its breweries.
In recent years, dozens of breweries have launched in Los Angeles, and, unsurprisingly, most of them have included hoppy beers as staples in their lineups. Over the past couple of years, some hoppy brews from Los Angeles breweries have found their way to the Bay Area in kegs, cans and bottles.
While Angel City Brewery was founded in 1997, its production and distribution began growing rapidly after its acquisition by Alchemy & Science, a craft beer incubator subsidiary of Boston Beer Co., brewers of Samuel Adams. Angel City opened a brewery/public house in the Los Angeles Arts District in 2013, with a year-round lineup focusing on sessionable brews.
Angel City IPA is an easy-drinking example of the style, presenting a hop-forward aroma that includes citrusy elements of grapefruit and lemon, along with tropical pineapple notes and a hint of fresh-mown hay. Hops are definitely the focal point, with minimal malt or yeast aromas.
The beer pours a burnished copper-gold color, bright and clear, with a medium-dense off-white head. On the palate, a moderate woody/piney hop bitterness and flavor hits first, supported by a very subtle honeylike sweetness. The bitterness remains present through the crisp, clean, dry finish, and the beer is light-bodied and effervescent, with a pleasant carbonic bite.
Golden Road Brewing opened in 2011, with a strong focus on environmental sustainability, as evidenced by partnerships with Heal the Bay, to which it donates a portion of the proceeds from Heal the Bay IPA, and the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corp., which benefits from sales of 2020 IPA.
Golden Road brews and cans all of its beers in Los Angeles, and three of its six core beers are variations on the IPA theme. Anheuser-Busch InBev acquired Golden Road in 2015.
Wolf Among Weeds is Golden Road’s flagship Double IPA, with hop aromas of bright lemon-lime zest, slightly under-ripe tropical mango or papaya and delicate, sweet floral jasmine notes. The beer is a bright golden color with a tall, mousselike head of foam, and the flavor profile is complex, with a rich, resiny, grassy/herbal hop flavor and an intense dank, woody hop bitterness. Light, bready malts and hints of rye spice complement the dank hops, which remain in force throughout the long but dry finish. Medium-bodied and well-carbonated, the beer reveals hints of its 8 percent ABV but remains quite drinkable for its strength.
El Segundo Brewing Co. launched in 2011 after head brewer and owner Rob Croxall left his job in the aerospace industry to pursue his dream of running a brewery. El Segundo’s lineup features numerous hop-forward brews, including Mayberry IPA, Citra Pale Ale, Power Plant Triple IPA, Pine Tar Incident Black IPA and Broken Skull IPA, a recent collaboration with pro wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Hammerland Double IPA from El Segundo is light golden orange in color with a rocky cream-colored head and great lacing on the glass. The aroma is a huge, juicy tropical hop cocktail of passionfruit, orange and pineapple, with hints of pine. The fruit and pine trade places on the palate, highlighting pronounced dank hop flavor and medium bitterness – the citrus fruit is still present but not as prevalent as in the aroma. Clean malt takes a backseat to the hops, and the finish is long, intense and pleasantly bitter. With a medium-light body and prickly carbonation, Hammerland hides its 8.6 percent ABV well.
Derek Wolfgram is a Certified Beer Judge through the Beer Judge Certification Program and an officer of the Silicon Valley Sudzers homebrew club. For more information, visit sudzers.org.