Visitors of Southern California know they don’t have to look far for a world-class, locally sourced bottle of wine. What they may not know is they’re equally close to some of the country’s best craft breweries.
So in the spirit of fall—our favorite beer-drinking season—we’ve hopped our way through LA’s top brewhouses to select the flavors you shouldn’t miss out on during your next stay in Malibu. All just a short private car ride from Malibu Beach Inn, our favorites are listed below, including recommendations for key beers and fall favorites from the brewery experts themselves.
Photo credit: Laurie Porter
1902 Del Amo Boulevard Suite B Torrance CA 90501
At Smog City Brewing Company, the owner-brewers embrace what is different about beer with a fresh line-up of eccentric, quality creations. The South Bay taproom features an experimental beer series alongside award-winning favorites like the Sabre Toothed Squirrel amber ale, which just brought home two coveted awards from the Great American Beer Fest and World Beer Cup.
Must Try: Coffee Porter, Sabre Toothed Squirrel
For Fall: The Nothing, Amarilla Gorilla IPA
In Their Words: “The Nothing, our double chocolate imperial stout brewed with raw cocoa nibs, is a real crowd pleaser, and the Amarilla Gorilla IPA with its tropical aroma and crisp but balanced bitterness will blow you away.”
Photo credit: Firestone Walker Brewing Company
3205 Washington Boulevard Marina Del Rey CA 90292
Beer runs deeper than blood at Firestone Walker Brewing Company, run by brothers-in-law David Walker and Adam Firestone. The two believe in combining authentic, traditional methods with West Coast innovation to craft incredible beers like the futuristic Luponic Distortion and the Nitro Merlin Milk Stout. They recently fired up a new Venice brewhouse, the Propagator, where they plan to serve experimental libations and beers unique to the coastal town.
Must Try: DBA, Luponic Distortion
For Fall: Nitro Merlin Milk Stout
In Their Words: “For the fall season, Nitro Merlin Milk Stout is perfect—it’s rich, roasty, and creamy, and will warm your heart on a cold autumn day.”
Photo credit: Mumford Brewing
416 Boyd Street Los Angeles CA 90013
The first of the new wave Arts District breweries in downtown LA, Mumford Brewing also owes its existence to two brothers (last name Mumford) with a true love of hops. A bright, open taproom is filled with inventive light beers like the Five Point O honey kolsch and a delicious range of IPAs. There are board games to keep you entertained as well as a crowler machine for filling up 32-ounce cans that you can take home.
Must Try: Five Point O, any Northeast-style IPA
For Fall: Skidrokyo
In Their Words: “We can’t stop drinking IPAs, probably because we’re addicted to hops and because “fall” in Southern California can sometimes feel like one long summer. But, if you want to feel like the leaves are changing and it’s getting cold outside, go with whatever dark beer we have on tap at the moment—currently it’s our Skidrokyo vanilla porter.”
Photo credit: Ladyface Ale Companie
29281 Agoura Road Agoura Hills CA 91301
Ladyface Ale Companie can be found just outside of LA, but the European-style microbrewery feels worlds away from the city’s other craft beer hotspots. Located at the base of Ladyface Mountain, the brewpub features an award-winning selection of crisp Belgian ales, globally-inspired seasonals, and barrel-aged ales. Enjoy a draft from one of 16 taps or a cask ale on the patio overlooking Conejo Valley’s scenic hills.
Must Try: La Blonde, Lacnunga Gruit, Picture City Porter
For Fall: Ladyface Weizenbock
In Their Words: “If you’re new to craft beer, you might start with La Blonde; if you’re an aficionado, we think you’ll find our Gruit (an herb-hopped historical ale) intriguing; and everyone loves our Picture City coffee porter.”
5127 York Boulevard Los Angeles CA 90042
At Highland Park Brewery, constant innovation makes the taproom an exciting place for the craft beer drinker. You most likely won’t find the same IPA on tap twice in a row, but you will find something adventurous and full of flavor with each new visit. The brewery, located in the back room of The Hermosillo, embraces the idea that the crafting process is about discovery, resulting in beers that are full of character.
Must Try: Any IPA on tap
For Fall: Mr. Marathon
In Their Words: “Seasonally, we’re really excited about a beer we call Mr. Marathon. It’s a complex rye saison with notes of pepper, citrus, and a toasty malt backbone.”
Photo credit: Angel City Brewery
216 South Alameda Street Los Angeles CA 90012
After nearly 20 years as an LA craft beer icon, Angel City Brewery is still attracting patrons to its relatively new location downtown. The industrial building plays host to an incredible variety of events and offers an ever-changing selection of Angel City beer on tap, from traditional German styles to experimental brews like an avocado ale—some of which are only available at the brewery.
Must Try: Angel City IPA, White Nite
For Fall: Baltic Porter, Imperial Irish Red Ale
In Their Words: “The Baltic Porter, our winter seasonal, is exceptionally dark with a heavily roasted aroma, but it’s brewed with a lager yeast for a clean finish. The Imperial Irish Red Ale is really special. It’s a 16% Irish red aged in Jameson casks for six months, so it’s got a really decadent body with rich caramel notes.”
Photo Credit: Beachwood Brewing
210 East Third Street Long Beach CA 90802
At Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, the beer speaks for itself. (Brewmaster Julian Shrago also has more beer awards than any other brewer in LA.) There are 22 rotating taps and one cask-conditioned beer, as well as a selection of guest taps, with light brews like the Foam Top blonde ale and IPAs like the Amalgamator, a West Coast classic that pops with unique flavors. The brewery is also part restaurant, and the craft beers pair excellently with ribs, pulled pork, and brisket, all dry-rubbed and slow-smoked to perfection.
Must Try: Foam Top, Amalgamator
For Fall: Clear & Present Manger
In Their Words: “Since it’s the season and everyone loves a good pumpkin ale, we would definitely recommend Clear & Present Manger. Real pumpkin blends with rich malts and fresh spices to create a wonderfully luscious and aromatic beer.”
1920 Colorado Avenue Suite C Santa Monica CA 90404
A love for great beer and the city of Santa Monica is at the heart of Santa Monica Brew Works, where you can find the coastal city’s first and only local beer. The relaxed brewery maintains a “beach brewed” philosophy and features standout libations like the 310 California Blonde Ale, the PCH Golden Porter, and the Wit Modern Witbier—available at restaurants around the Westside. In the future, the owners hope to open a tasting room on site.
Must Try: 310 California Blonde Ale
For Fall: Breakfast Beer