Los Angeles is finally coming out of the craft beer shadows, and its brewers are now producing creative world-class beers that stand on their own, competing not only with the best in California, but with the best in the U.S. Here I offer my top 5 LA beers that deserve your attention.
1. Monkish Brewing Co. Rosa's Hips Henry and Adrianna produce some of the most creative beers in LA County and Rosa's Hips doesn't disappoint. Rosa's Hips is dry belgian brown flavored, as the name suggests, with rose hips that offer an interesting, but not overpowering tangy spicy flavor that greets the front end of your palate in a welcome embrace. As the beer lingers the spicy tang, gives way to more traditional belgian brown flavors. Dark caramel, vanilla and toffee play across one's tongue at mid palate and the finish is a delicious lingering dried plum flavor. A really wonderful beer.
2. Smog City Brewing Co. Quercus Circus. This has been one of my favorite sours since I first tasted it at last year's OC Brew Ha Ha. A light bodied, dry and sour blond. The front of the palate is all sour and tang with just enough funk to keep things interesting. By mid palate the beer sweetens a bit offering up malty notes that are quite pleasant. The beer finishes with a subtle acidity and bitterness that lingers pleasingly.
3. Golden Road Brewing's Wolf Among Weeds. This traditional IPA competes with any being brewed in California. An incredibly well balanced and aromatic IPA, Wolf Among Weeds hits first with citrusy hop aroma and bitterness that gives way to more mellow and nuanced carmel maltiness and finishes with a fantastic bitterness. Simply delicious.
4. Brouwerij West My First Rodeo. From one of the quieter brewers in LA County who don't get enough attention. My First Rodeo is a interesting, fruity and funky Belgian blond fermented with 100% Brettanomyces, the yeast most brewers try to keep from inoculating their beers. The beer starts funky and sour, but by mid palate a bit of malt and grain come through to balance the funk and give your palate a break. Just when you think it's going to get boring a nice spiciness emerges from the German noble hops that offer a lovely finish.
5. Beachwood BBQ and Brewing Long Beach Oatmonster. Finally someone is doing a traditional British oatmeal stout. Oatmonster is an easy drinking (5.5% abv 28 IBU) full bodied stout. Bitter from the chocolate and roasted malts, that give way to the malty sweetness and full bodied mouth feel of a traditional stout. This beer doesn't challenge it just pleases.
I could have easily made this list much longer, but I think these are some of the most interesting beers in LA right now. Have a favorite of your own? Think I left somebody out? Leave your top 5 in the comments section.