Arts District Brewing
arts district brewery has a full food menu and bar aside from all the beers. I stopped by on a Sunday afternoon and tried four different beers. I could tell from the list that they still aim fairly traditional in the IPA area. This means I did not see any hazy IPAs like their neighbors modern times and Mumford. Instead I encountered IPAs that were traditional West Coast style. In some ways this meant they were a little too bitter for my current pallet.
I started with the Canyonero Hoppy Amber. He had a mix of citrus and spice from the hops and a good medium bitterness that balanced with notes of orange peel and herbal hops that seemed a bit strong for me on the finish. The other IPA, Kablamo, was more intensely bitter with strong pine on the nose and mix of herbal and pine that finishes with resin and sticks on the tongue. The level of bitterness is up there with traditional West Coast styles but was a bit much for me now that I am used to more modern styles.
While I found the traditional flavors of the IPAs to be a little bit much, I was refreshed by the traditional flavors of the various stouts they had. I started with the cowboy Curtis a smoked stout. The beer was super smoky on the nose but more balanced in the taste. It had a creamy body with flavors of dark chocolate, marshmallow, and light roast. The flavors balanced nicely and the smoke was not overpowering. The skeleton crew right Porter had a nice medium body with light smoke and roast and great balance. While nice, I preferred the cowboy Curtis for the more complex flavor and less herbal bite from rye.
Arts district brewery earns quite a few metals for their beers which suggests that they are fairly traditional and my tastes confirmed that. If you still love a traditional West Coast IPA, you will find plenty to enjoy here. For those who are not into the big bitterness anymore, I suggest you try their delicious stouts and porters.
I stopped by Mumford to see how their hazy IPAs had improved since my last visit over a year ago. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there hazy beers were much softer than I recalled and that one of the two was up at the level that I would hope to see from more Southern California breweries.
The first beer I tried, projection circuit, was nice and creamy with bright citrus notes of pineapple. The beer had fairly low hop acidity and bitterness. This was my favorite of the two and I brought home a crowler. I also tried the mastermind solutions. It was a bit sweeter and thicker with bright character of ripe papaya and mango and strong hop acidity and caramel on the finish. After trying both beers, I am much more likely to return to Mumford when I am in the area next time.
State Brewing Company
I stopped by state because I had heard that they make excellent hazy IPAs. As soon as possible walked in and scanned the tap list, I could tell that this brewery is almost exclusively trying to make everything in the hyper-modern styles. This included hazy IPAs, big pastry stouts, and a white stout with coffee. The brewery was also extremely loud on a Friday night when we visited. So I expect even if I had fallen in love with the beers after my first four, I would still have left to go elsewhere. It was like drinking inside a nightclub.
I tried two hazy IPAs. Both were fairly underwhelming and lacking in intense hop aromas as well as the traditional soft/creamy body that is characteristic of the style. The Super Smoove was boozy with light fruity character and floral hop taste. I found this and the other hazy to be overly sweet and boozy. The Can’t Floc had tons of overripe fruit character but as well was overly sweet and boozy. I did not finish either of these tasters.
Thankfully, I was more impressed by the two stouts that I tried. They had a couple of other varieties as well but I skipped the one with Maple syrup added because I do not care for that flavor. The project shadow, a base beer for many of their additions of adjuncts, was complex with notes of cherry malt and a dark chocolate finish. Though 10% alcohol, this did not have significantly noticeable alcohol. The project Nicaragua had coffee, vanilla, and graham crackers added. All three of these flavors blended nicely together along with the base dark chocolate finish. I immediately tasted notes of dark chocolate, coffee, and graham crackers and enjoyed how all of the flavors blended together. State brewery also offers crowlers of most of their beers to go.
LA ale works
A flight of beers at LA ale works is typically either five or six beers. I ordered six and most of them were good with a couple that stood out. The brewery itself has a nice outdoor seating area that we appreciated because they were playing somewhat loud music inside. They had quite a variety of beers on tap so it is difficult to choose six.
I started with their Pilsner. It was tasty with fruit and notes of grape and a clean finish. The saison was strongly hoppy and quite herbal with a bitter finish. This did not particularly taste like a Saison and was more like a pale ale. The IPA I tried was an excellent example of the modern style. It was soft and exploded with aromas of melon and light citrus with a mild herbal hop finish.
The milkshake IPA was very disappointing. It tasted very medicinal to me and the lactose did not seem to work in the beer without a hazy base beer. I got some mild characters of orange and spices but overall the beer was undrinkable. After that, I tried the buttress of Windsor, a coffee stout. The beer had a strong flavor of nutty coffee with mild roast. While quite delicious, it tasted more like iced coffee than a coffee beer. To some people this may not seem like a bad thing. I finished with their Russia Attack Imperial Stout. It was strong in the cherry malt flavor and lately Smokey on the finish. Though similar to the Imperial Stout from state, I preferred the base beer at state.
The only thing exciting enough at both of these breweries that I would suggest go out of your way to visit either of them was the pastry Stout at state. Still, they are good additions to the El Segundo neighborhood and great places to hang out for the locals.
Buttress of Windsor
Mumford is located in the heart of downtown LA in between Little Tokyo and Skid Row. I found out about them because of a can that was shared with me from someone up in LA. While they have drawn crowds for beer releases in the past, I expect the can of Un-Presidential IPA was a fluke because none of the other beers were anywhere near that quality. Still, they are able to draw a good crowd with their decent hazy IPA which is enough to satisfy those who aren’t familiar with what it could taste like.
The Pant Suit saison was super fruity with a bitter finish that overpowered it. It was quite unbalanced and I didn’t finish the taster. The Ghostwriter pale ale had some nice citrus notes with pineapple and tropical fruit but again a bitter finish that overpowered the rest of it, making it average at best. The LA Like, hazy IPA, had notes of orange and grapefruit and a cloudy orange color with mild notes of vanilla. I thought this was the best of the bunch but at the end it seemed a bit soapy. I want to hope this was just a glass that wasn’t properly rinsed. Assuming the soap was not in the beer it is a solid average hazy IPA.
Skidrokyo Cafe on nitro is their coffee porter with vanilla. It had some intense coffee and mild roast with some sweet caramel and vanilla on the finish. It is probably the best beer on the menu and for the low alcohol range it is slightly above average for the area. It would certainly satisfy the stout fans who tag along while you enjoy the IPAs. The DTLA IPA had strong hop flavors of pine and also mildly herbal taste with a strong bitter finish. Like others it was too bitter for the hops.
The All Caps was a solid mix of pine and citrus with a dry finish and not too bitter. I got some notes of green tea on the finish that were unexpected. After the LA Like, this is the other IPA I could drink. The East Enders double IPA was sticky sweet and fruity with notes of over ripe fruit and onion. It was both too sweet and missed the mark for the hop flavors, so I couldn’t finish the taster.
I hope in 6 months Mumford will be able to more consistently brew solid IPAs because they had great results with the Un-Presidential IPA. Sadly, most of the IPAs I had when I visited had an off-putting bitter after-taste. I expect it was present in the hazy IPA as well just masked by the haze. For now I think most of their hype is overblown and I wouldn’t go out of my way for another visit anytime soon. For the hardcore beer fan there are better breweries in the LA area. But if you are new to IPAs their hazy IPAs should be more than good for you.
SkidRokyo on Nitro
Through a friend and fellow blogger I found out about Hopsaint, which had only been open for two months before I visited. The head brewer used to work for Stone and Abigaile and the experience shines through in the lineup of beers. As my third stop for the day I tried only four tasters but we also had some of their delicious chocolate pie to go with it. They have a full restaurant as well and a number of guest beers both on tap and in bottles. I tasted the Vienna Lager, pale ale, Cacophony IPA, and experimental stout.
The Vienna Lager was a lot lighter in color than the typical yet it had a smooth dry finish with a very mild amount of hops. My friend who shared the tasters with me liked it enough to order a half pour after we finished all the tasters. The pale ale was light and crisp with a good hop punch and low malt bill with plenty of citrus and pine. I wasn’t too big on the hop profile but it was certainly well done. The Cacophony IPA was a real treat, thick, sticky, dank, and seriously fruity it had everything that I expect out of the new wave of IPAs. It fits in nicely with the recent trend away from serious bitterness in favor of hop aromas.
The experimental stout was smooth and roasty, with subtle notes of caramel, chocolate, and coffee with a dry finish. This paired delightfully well with their chocolate pie, which was also seriously impressive. Thick and rich, the pie had tons of dark chocolate without too much sweetness. Everyone agreed that pairing the pie with the stout was a perfect match. For such a young brewery, Hopsaint had an impressive lineup of beers. Unlike the other breweries in the area, they offer a full kitchen as well so you don’t have to rely on a food truck.