Compared with other West Coast cities, Los Angeles hasn’t developed much of a taste for craft beer.
But Alan Newman thinks the region’s palate is ready to change, presenting brewers with an opportunity to tap into a huge market that, for now, isn’t controlled by any big players.
“If you go to San Diego, craft beer has a huge share of the market; same thing in San Francisco,” Newman said. “There’s no reason for me to believe it’s not going to happen here.”
Earlier this year, Newman’s company, Alchemy & Science Brewing Collaborative LLC, bought Angel City Brewing in downtown L.A.’s Arts District and is now renovating the brewery, with plans to build a bar and gift shop, and open up for tours.
It’s part of a strategy by Alchemy & Science – a Burlington, Vt., subsidiary of craft beer giant Boston Beer Co., the maker of Samuel Adams – to make Angel City a powerful regional brand.
“There’s a lack of existing breweries that own the territory,” said Newman, a portly brewing veteran with a shaved head, silver beard and banana-yellow spectacles. “Los Angeles is an immature market.”
Newman and Boston Beer aren’t the only big names who see opportunity here. Cedd Moses, whose 213 Inc. owns downtown hotspots such as Broadway Bar and Seven Grand, is seeking permits to build a brewery and skeeball parlor just a few blocks down Traction Avenue from Angel City. In addition, executives from Escondido’s Stone Brewing Co. have said they want to build a small brewery somewhere downtown.
Angel City already sells kegged beer to local bars, but it plans to add a bottling line and work with distributors to sell to grocery stores and more bars. Moses’ brewery would produce beer sold on tap and in bottles at the brewery as well as for sale to other bars. A Stone location downtown would likely make small batches of beer to sell on tap and in jugs to take home.
Those big-name projects and the rapid growth of Atwater Village’s Golden Road Brewing, as well as more than two dozen planned breweries in Los Angeles County, could signal that the L.A. craft beer scene is hitting its stride after years of lagging behind much of the rest of the West Coast.
Newman estimates that craft brews make up nearly one-third of the total beer market in San Francisco; Portland, Ore.; Seattle and San Diego. In Los Angeles, he said craft beer makes up more like 3 percent or 4 percent of all suds”
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