El Segundo Brewing Company’s tasting room is nestled just off the street in a small basement room that might be your dad’s dream of converting the garage into a bar come to life. Sacks naming different hops hung on the walls and the pretzels on the sparkly green tables give the subterranean nook a little more coziness despite the chill of this rainy day. But who needs coziness? We’re here for beer.
It was early in the afternoon and the tasting room attendants had just returned from an event, so they seemed in a hurry to get things organized for the later rush. Much to my chagrin the magical fruit salad of a beer that lured me to El Segundo, the Blue House Citra, was nowhere to be found, nor was their new DIPA. However, in an attempt to kick the keg, they were offering a full pint of rum oak cask Hyperion Stout for a measly $2, which was a highlight of their offerings.
I found most of their beers to be light in body but still flavorful, with the latte-ish Hyperion Stout with vanilla bean being another stand out. Their Standard Crude Imperial Stout was remarkably light-bodied for an imperial but the boozy spoke to its higher ABV. Approachability’s the name of the game at El Segundo; they keep their ABV’s low and their flavor profiles straightforward but tasty. Comparing the Blue House Pale & Blue House IPA was instructive, but damned if I didn’t miss that Citra to round out the trifecta. El Segundo is now bottling some of their offerings and had a stocked fridge for those who wanted to take some home.
Next we headed across the street for Rock N Brews, admittedly, not the kind of place I’d usually choose. It’s a mostly outdoor Hard Rock Café type of place that’s owned by classic rock promoter Dave Furano. I shouldn’t have judged an album by its cover. I was completely taken aback by the quality of the beer list, both on tap and in bottles.
Among some more standard craft offerings on tap, they had Victory’s Ranch R DIPA, Alesmith’s My Bloody Valentine, Eagle Rock Brewery’s Threes, and Hangar 24’s Vinaceous (an old ale made with Mourvedic grapes). Some of my compatriots opted to split a bottle of Jolly Pumpkin’s La Parcela pumpkin ale, whose delicious funk makes it the king of all pumpkin ales in my eyes. Seeing that kind of list in a mainstream, family-friendly place like this makes me hopeful for the continued expansion of craft beer into restaurants where just a few years ago you would have been lucky to get a Blue Moon. Despite the chill in the air, armed with my Victory under a heat lamp, I was a happy camper.
Megan Rosenbloom is a librarian, photographer, and craft beer lover living in Los Angeles.