USA, CA: Hermosa Beach Brewing Co. is South Bays newest brewery
The South Bays newest brewery is also the only one not to brew its craft beer on site, The Daily Breeze reported on February 12.
Hermosa Beach Brewing Co., which occupies the small space once home to boutique German beer hall concept Brat & Brau near the Underground Pub and Grill at 1342 Hermosa Ave., contracts with established breweries to make the beers the two co-owners perfected as home brewers.
Were doing gypsy brewing or nomadic brewing, as we like to call it, said Dave Davis, who along with business partner Jorge Delgado have lived in the beach cities for 17 years. We have developed 30-some beer recipes and we are leasing time from other breweries and brewing in those breweries.
Its a function of a quirk in the funky citys zoning laws that the brewery was forced to produce its half-dozen brews (so far) off-site.
Theres only one small light-manufacturing area in Hermosa Beach occupied largely by surfboard shapers and auto detailers. A production brewery is allowed, but not a retail tap room. And although theres limited retail business going on there, its a grey area.
Not wanting to deal with an uphill battle against the municipal bureaucracy to get zoning codes changed in a community where alcohol is a touchy subject due to its party town reputation, the two have opened what is officially a restaurant.
There is a modest menu of small bites and its generally earning positive Yelp reviews rather than traditional entrees with appetizers, but the focus is on craft brews.
The beer is the star here, Delgado said. Everywhere else they are restaurants and their food is first and then you can have a beer (with it).
For a city as awash in alcohol as Hermosa Beachs reputation suggests, the pair actually saw the craft brew market as one that was largely ignored elsewhere in the community.
Theres only one other brewpub in town Abigaile Restaurant & Brewery but the emphasis there is squarely on the food, as the name suggests.
Aside from that, craft beers are in relatively short supply in the city unlike in neighboring Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach especially after Hots Kitchen further south on Hermosa Avenue, with its dozens of craft beer taps, shuttered a couple of weeks ago.
We felt there was an opening here, we felt this was the right place, Davis said. I live here, Jorge lives near here and we can ride our bikes here.
One advantage of taking over the location from a restaurant the two purchased it, so it was simply a change in ownership officially is they were able to retain the wooden bar and the dozen draft taps, a major expense.
Hermosa Beach Brewing Co. is gradually ramping up production with six beers of their own on draft and a couple from Carlsbad-based Rouleur Brewing, their contract brewer. Standouts include an ultra-fruity Hazy AF Northeast India Pale Ale that explodes in a tropical burst on the tongue, Stand Up West Coast IPA (their top-seller) and the aptly-named Pier to Pier Pale Ale.
A saison arrives later this week brewed at a Westlake Village brewery, and the tap room will open for lunch weekdays, too, by March or April (its open at 11 a.m. weekends). Expect to see an oatmeal stout on draft for St. Patricks Day, always a big event in Hermosa Beach.
The cozy 720-square-foot tasting room sports wooden benches on one side, a large communal table in the center and large windows that flood the space with light, providing an ocean view for taking in sunsets. Unlike production breweries, the tap rooms status as a restaurant enables the sale of wine to those who dont quaff ales.
And unlike most Hermosa Beach restaurants or bars, the place is geared to accommodate locals, although plenty of tourists will undoubtedly make their way to the spot on the edge of downtown. That was a deliberate choice; the two didnt want to locate on Pier Avenue with its party atmosphere.
Its a low-key, comfortable space owned by locals for locals where you can have a taster of beer for just $2.
And its a creative way of bringing a brewery to a densely populated community that doesnt accommodate a traditional production brewery.
Im shocked at how many people say I live just a block away, Davis said. So if thats true, theres a huge number of people who live a block away. A lot of people say Ive been waiting for a place like this, Hermosa needs its own brewery.
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