Perched atop a hill just north of downtown Los Angeles, Dodger Stadium has overlooked plenty of happenings in an iconic city, yet being on the forefront of the craft-beer movement has not been one of them.
Inside the park, the Dodgers have been improving the beer experience in recent years, but you'll have to do work to find evidence. Hop-centric beers like Stone's Arrogant Bastard, Three Weavers' Expatriate West Coast IPA, Strand Brewing Co.'s 24th Street Pale Ale, Ballast Point Sculpin, and Golden Road Wolf Pup all can be found. For easier drinking, there is Hangar 24's Orange Wheat, Firestone's 805, St. Archer's White Ale, and Angel City Pilsner, among others.
The cramped concourses of the third oldest park in baseball haven't allow for much expansion, therefore finding bold beer flavors might take a little effort. Golden Road has a higher profile than most, but searching the edges of the park – like the left-field corner of the Loge Level and beyond the left- and right-field bullpens – can yield positive results. One high-profile area with impressive beer variety is in the coolers of the AM/PM located behind home plate of the field level.
But the real fun comes when exploring the local area. Los Angeles is known for long drives and brutal traffic, but there is plenty of reward in a mere 7-mile radius from home plate.
Well documented as an area slow to embrace the craft beer scene – whether it be consumer tastes or the difficulty in starting such a business in the area – Los Angeles is finding its way now, finally making a beer-centric day of hops and baseball a reality.
Highland Park Brewery will have you drinking local, quite literally, as its Yard Beer series uses ingredients found in the neighborhood.”
The greater Los Angeles area has gems like Beachwood Brewing in Long Beach, Smog City Brewing in Torrance, El Segundo Brewing Co., and Craftsman Brewing Co. in Pasadena. For Belgians and sours, Monkish Brewing, also in Torrance, has everything you could ever hope for.
Here, though, we’ll keep the Los Angeles navigation to a minimum, and focus on the experience in the city proper, an endeavor not so feasible only a few short years ago.
The ultimate Dodger Stadium craft-beer experience has to start at Eagle Rock Brewing, on the Stadium Way side of Chavez Ravine. The place bills itself as being the first Los Angeles brewery in decades and opened in 2009. It is worthy of a visit for more than just being a trailblazer, as its Populist IPA has made its mark in a crowded city.
How do you get there from Dodger Stadium exactly? Take the 2 freeway north. And “2 North” just happens to be the name of the brewery’s Brown Ale.
Less than three miles west of Eagle Rock Brewing Co. is Highland Park Brewery, and the adjacent beer and wine bar “The Hermosillo.” Highland Park Brewery will have you drinking local, quite literally, as its Yard Beer series uses ingredients found in the neighborhood. The most recent Yard Beer was a tangy saison with “black limes” and “sour flower.”
Not only is the craft beer scene finding its legs in Los Angeles, so is the development of the Arts District, a former warehouse area west of downtown, on the banks of the concrete Los Angeles River. A number of breweries have taken hold in the trendy enclave from Boomtown Brewery, to Arts District Brewing Co., Mumford Brewing and Angel City Brewery.
Boomtown embraces its warehouse roots in a casual yet cool tasting room that incorporates wood, metal and local art into its look. And since this is a baseball-themed trip, we’ll have the “Slump Buster” double IPA. Arts District Brewing gives you the opportunity to enjoy the mighty trio of curly fries, Skeeball and the killer “Traction” IPA. Or keep the ABV low with the “Mateo” golden ale.
Mumford Brewing (known for its hazy IPA) and Angel City are mere blocks apart but technically in two different neighborhoods. Angel City, now owned by Boston Beer. Co. – better known as the makers of Samuel Adams Lager – is on the edge of the Arts District, while a few blocks west, Mumford sits in what is considered Little Tokyo.
Appropriately located in South Los Angeles is the San Diego invasion. The Denmark-based Mikkeller has a tasting room on Olympic Boulevard. No beer is brewed on the premises, but the beer menu is populated by offerings brewed in Mikkeller’s San Diego tasting room. Art work on the walls is distinctly Mikkeller. Nearby on Olive Street is the tasting room from San Diego’s Modern Times that is currently under construction.
Yet it is the beer bars near Dodger Stadium that are worth a visit, even when the team is out of town. Mowhawk Bend and The Semi-Tropic (just off Sunset on Glendale Blvd.) are gems in their own right, but the jewel of the lot is actually in walking distance of the park (if you don’t have an aversion to hills).
Finding the Sunset Beer Co. will take a little effort, but that undertaking will be rewarded once within a beer store/lounge that makes you feel far removed from the mini strip mall that contains it. Old favorites, rarities, surprises (like a Hair of the Dog Otto, or a Monsters’ Park from Modern Times), and around a dozen taps of local offerings make committing to a choice harder than it would seem.
You can either go up the hill and watch batting practice, or take advantage of Sunset Beer Co.’s happy hour, which eschews a normal corkage/uncapping fee on bottle/can purchases. You can even grab a number of hard-to-find selections to go, although Dodger Stadium does not allow tailgating.
The best part? There is no need to look at your watch for game time. When the crowd thins, first pitch is near.