You might not be aware of this, but the South Bay is slowly growing as the place to be for breweries. The craft beer movement skipped over Los Angeles, but it’s starting to come around on this second lap. The problem is, the bureaucratic obstacle of starting a brewery in LA proper has been turning away business and places like Manhattan Beach and Torrance have stepped up to fill the void. With their smaller governments, brewers have found a much more streamlined process that lets them deal with the same people to live out their beer fantasies.
Just this year, LA Weekly named Torrance the best beer city. One of the breweries responsible for this new found reputation is Smog City Brewing. Despite the name, their selection of beers is refreshing and unique. Their small tasting room/brewery facility is located in a warehouse district in Torrance that you may miss several times before finding it. But be sure to look — the brewery tasting is quickly becoming a favorite afternoon activity for many South Bay locals.
The Taproom Experience
Decor and atmosphere is not yet a major concern of beer tastings, with only places like Golden Road in Glendale practically turning their brewery into a theme park. Smog City is a decidedly more relaxed — and dare I say more authentic — tasting experience. There are only a few tables (so get there early) and they’re situated right on the same floor next to their brewing machinery & vats. It’s all essentially one big warehouse room, subdivided by a length of rope. There’s something about knowing you are so close to the source, and seeing it right in front of you, that makes the tasting experience more authentic.
That’s one of the appeals of the microbrewery anyway — the aura of authenticity. The idea that someone could put such meticulous care and thought into a single beverage, and you get to go to the source to try some.
The Art of Beer
For the uninitiated, a “flight” is the beer version of a wine tasting. Small glasses, usually 5 or 6, of different beers served in a row for your perusal. Smog City Brewing does it a little differently — they let you buy individual tasting glasses for $1 to $2, depending on the beer. This enables your flight to be as big or small as you want without having to commit to sets of 10.
I’m still very much a novice in the culture of craft beer, so it’s going to be difficult to properly describe their offerings. What you should know is that they offer a huge variety. They host over a dozen beers, from pilsners to porters, with wildly divergent tastes. It’s hard to imagine that one wouldn’t find something to their liking.
There’s “Hive Five,” which is a likable tangy & honey flavored beverage. The appropriately named “Weird Beer” is perplexing and somehow salty, but I’m sure that’s the sweet spot to someone’s taste buds. “Smoked Smaug Lager,” “Little Bo Pils,” and “Sabretooth Squirrel” are more than just humorously named, but hoppy beverages that go down so easily you might get unintentionally drunk. But my favorite by far are their two coffee-based drinks, especially the “Chip Shot Coffee Porter.” The dark brew channels the earthy bitterness of coffee. It’s like a cup of iced coffee, but more refreshing with the exclamation point of beer.
Beer is one of the drinks that people put design, thought and care into. Besides coffee & wine, it’s a cultural beverage that has a dedicated class of artisans trying to perfect and innovate on it beyond adding a twisty bottleneck or color-changing can. If you’re a South Bay native, of drinking age, and don’t know what the big deal is, a place like Smog City Brewing is right in your backyard.
Smog City Brewing – (310) 320 – 7664
1901 Del Amo Blvd. Ste B
Torrance, CA 90501